Coax Stub Filters Demystified

Unless you hold a First Degree RF Wizard rating, chances are good that coax stubs seem a bit baffling to you. They look for all the world like short circuits or open circuits, and yet work their magic and act to match feedline impedances or even as bandpass filters. Pretty interesting behavior from a little piece of coaxial cable.

If you’ve ever wondered how stub filters do their thing, [Fesz] has you covered. His latest video concentrates on practical filters made from quarter-wavelength and half-wavelength stubs. Starting with LTspice simulations, he walks through the different behaviors of open-circuit and short-circuit stubs, as well as what happens when multiple stubs are added to the same feedline. He also covers a nifty online calculator that makes it easy to come up with stub lengths based on things like the velocity factor and characteristic impedance of the coax.

It’s never just about simulations with [Fesz], though, so he presents a real-world stub filter for FM broadcast signals on the 2-meter amateur radio band. The final design required multiple stubs to get 30 dB of attenuation from 88 MHz to 108 MHz, and the filter seemed fairly sensitive to the physical position of the stubs relative to each other. Also, the filter needed a little LC matching circuit to move the passband frequency to the center of the 2-meter band. All the details are in the video below.

It’s pretty cool to see what can be accomplished with just a couple of offcuts of coax. Plus, getting some of the theory behind those funny little features on PCBs that handle microwave frequencies is a nice bonus. This microwave frequency doubler is a nice example of what stubs can do.

Continue reading “Coax Stub Filters Demystified”

CeraMetal Lets You Print Metal, Cheaply And Easily

3D printing metal has been somewhat of a holy grail for the last decade in the hobby 3DP scene. We’ve seen a number of solutions, including using expensive filaments that incorporate metal into the usual plastic. In parallel, we’ve seen ceramic printers, and paste printers in general, coming into their own. What if you combined the two?

You’d get [Leah Buechly] et al’s CeraMetal process, which is the cheapest and most straightforward metal printing method we’ve seen to date. It all starts off with a custom bronze metal clay, made up of 100 g bronze powder, 0.17 g methyl cellulose, 0.33 g xanthan gum, and 9 g water. The water is fine-tuned to get the right consistency, and then it’s extruded and sintered.

The printer in question is an off-the-shelf ceramic printer that appears to use a pressurized clay feed into an augur, and prints on a linen bed. [Leah] had to write a custom slicer firmware that essentially runs in vase mode but incorporates infill as well, because the stop-start of normal slicers wreaked havoc with clay printing.

The part is then buried in activated carbon for support, and fired in a kiln. The result is a 3D printed bronze part on the cheap; the material cost is essentially just the cost of the metal powder and your effort.

We had never heard of metal clay before, but apparently jewelers have been using it for metals other than just bronze. The Metal Clay Academy, from the references section of the paper, is an amazing resource if you want to recreate this at home.

Paste printers are sounding more and more interesting. Obvious applications include printing chocolate and printing pancakes, but now that we’re talking metal parts with reasonably consistent shrinkage, they’ve got our attention.

Hackaday Links Column Banner

Hackaday Links: July 21, 2024

When monitors around the world display a “Blue Screen of Death” and you know it’s probably your fault, it’s got to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day at work. That’s likely the situation inside CrowdStrike this weekend, as engineers at the cybersecurity provider struggle to recover from an update rollout that went very, very badly indeed. The rollout, which affected enterprise-level Windows 10 and 11 hosts running their flagship Falcon Sensor product, resulted in machines going into a boot loop or just dropping into restore mode, leaving hapless millions to stare at the dreaded BSOD screen on everything from POS terminals to transit ticketing systems.

Continue reading “Hackaday Links: July 21, 2024”

A Modchip For A Fridge

An annoying fridge that beeps incessantly when the door is open too long should be an easy enough thing to fix by disconnecting the speaker, but when as with [kennedn]’s model it’s plumbed in and the speaker is inaccessible, what’s to be done? The answer: create a mod chip for a fridge.

While the fridge electronics themselves couldn’t be reached, there was full access to a daughterboard with the fridge controls. It should be easy enough to use them to turn off the alarm, but first a little reverse engineering was required. It used a serial communication with an old-school set of shift registers rather than a microcontroller, but it soon became apparent that the job could be done by simply pulling the buttons down. In a move that should gladden the heart of all Hackaday readers then, the modchip in question didn’t even have to be a processor, instead it could be the venerable 555 timer. Our lives are complete, and the fridge is no longer annoying.

The 555 is unashamedly a Hackaday cliche, but even after five decades it still bears some understanding.

A cartoon of the Sun above a windmill and a solar panel with a lightning bolt going to a big grey gear with "AAAp" written on it. A small "e-" on a circle is next to it, indicating electricity transfer. Further to the right is an ADP molecule connected to a curved arrow going through the AAAp gear to turn into ATP. Three cartoon shapes, presumably illustrating biological processes are on the right with arrows pointing from the ATP.

Powering Biology With Batteries

We’ve all been there — you forgot your lunch, but there are AC outlets galore. Wouldn’t it be so much simpler if you could just plug in like your phone? Don’t try it yet, but biologists have taken us one step further to being able to fuel ourselves on those sweet, sweet electrons.

Using an “electrobiological module” of 3-4 enzymes, the amusingly named AAA (acid/aldehyde ATP) cycle regenerates ATP in biological systems directly from electricity. The process takes place at -0.6 V vs a standard hydrogen electrode (SHE), and is compatible with biological transcription/translation processes like “RNA and protein synthesis from DNA.”

The process isn’t dependent on any membranes to foul or more complicated sets of enzymes making it ideal for in vitro synthetic biology since you don’t have to worry about keeping as many components in an ideal environment. We’re particularly interested in how this might apply to DNA computing which we keep being promised will someday be the best thing since the transistor.

Maybe in the future we’ll all jack in instead of eating our daily food pill? If this all seems like something you’ve heard of before, but in reverse, maybe you’re thinking of microbial fuel cells.

Ask Hackaday: Should We Teach BASIC?

Suppose you decide you want to become a novelist. You enroll in the Hackaday Famous Novelists School where your instructor announces that since all truly great novels are written in Russian, our first task will be to learn Russian. You’d probably get up and leave. The truth is, what makes a great (or bad) novel transcends any particular language, and you could make the same argument for programming languages.

Despite the pundits, understanding the basics of how computers work is more important than knowing C, Java, or the language of the week. A recent post by [lackofimagination] proposes that we should teach programming using BASIC. And not a modern whizz-pow BASIC, but old-fashioned regular BASIC as we might have used it in the 1980s.

Certainly, a whole generation of programmers cut their teeth on BASIC. On the other hand, the programming world has changed a lot since then. While you can sort of apply functional and object-oriented techniques to any programming language, it isn’t simple and the details often get in the way of the core ideas.

Still, some things don’t change. The idea of variables, program flow, loops, and arrays all have some parallel in just about anything, so we can see some advantages to starting out simply. After all, you don’t learn to drive by trying it out in the Indy 500, right?

What do you think? If you were teaching programming today, would you start with BASIC? Or with something else? You can modernize a little bit with QB64. Or try EndBasic which just recently had a new release.

Welding Wood Is As Simple As Rubbing Two Sticks Together

Can you weld wood? It seems like a silly question — if you throw a couple of pieces of oak on the welding table and whip out the TIG torch, you know nothing is going to happen. But as [Action Lab] shows us in the video below, welding wood is technically possible, if not very practical.

Since experiments like this sometimes try to stretch things a bit, it probably pays to define welding as a process that melts two materials at their interface and fuses them together as the molten material solidifies. That would seem to pose a problem for wood, which just burns when heated. But as [Action Lab] points out, it’s the volatile gases released from wood as it is heated that actually burn, and the natural polymers that are decomposed by the heat to release these gases have a glass transition temperature just like any other polymer. You just have to heat wood enough to reach that temperature without actually bursting the wood into flames.

His answer is one of the oldest technologies we have: rubbing two sticks together. By chucking a hardwood peg into a hand drill and spinning it into a slightly undersized hole in a stick of oak, he created enough heat and pressure to partially melt the polymers at the interface. When allowed to cool, the polymers fuse together, and voila! Welded wood. Cutting his welded wood along the joint reveals a thin layer of material that obviously underwent a phase change, so he dug into this phenomenon a bit and discovered research into melting and welding wood, which concludes that the melted material is primarily lignin, a phenolic biopolymer found in the cell walls of wood.

[Action Lab] follows up with an experiment where he heats bent wood in a vacuum chamber with a laser to lock the bend in place. The experiment was somewhat less convincing but got us thinking about other ways to exclude oxygen from the “weld pool,” such as flooding the area with argon. That’s exactly what’s done in TIG welding, after all. Continue reading “Welding Wood Is As Simple As Rubbing Two Sticks Together”